10 One Hit Wonders That Should Never Be Called One Hit Wonders

One Hit Wonders

Photo: Atlantic Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Our One Hit Wonders That Should Never Be Called One Hit Wonders article stems from an idea that we have been thinking about but had a really hard time coming up with an article title for. There are so many classic rock artists who have enjoyed spectacular careers in releasing a wealth of amazing albums that sold extremely well and fueled large fan bases over a long period of time. Many of these artists and bands never had a hit single. And that’s fine. Hit singles are nice, but great albums are better, to put it simply. Yet there have been some major rock artists with Hall of Fame catalogs of music who actually had just one hit single in their career. Sadly, many of the artists have been thrown onto numerous one-hit wonder lists which are quite laughable.

To many, an artist declared as on a one-hit wonder defines a band that did not do much outside of just having one hit single. For some that is true – but for many of these artists being thrown onto that list, nothing can be further from the truth. We did a lot of research for this list and could not believe the names of some of these great artists that have been thrown onto one hit wonder lists.

The research though proved to be more interesting because we were really surprised that some of these acts didn’t have more than one hit. Some more than others. In the end, the question as to whether a hit single matters can be answered by looking at this list. Of course for some artists, it was a hit single that broke their career. For others, it was just icing on the cake of a career that was already hall-of-fame caliber.

To narrow this down we set up three rules:

  1. The band or artists had to have released multiple great albums and toured and developed a loyal fan base.
  2. Had to have one top 10 hit single on The Billboard Hot 100 in the United States
  3. Never again made it inside the U.S. Billboard Top 40 with the exception of their top 10 hit.

In no real particular order…..

# 10 –  The Grateful Dead

We figured we would start out with a big one on this list just to catch your attention. We found the Grateful Dead on countless one hit wonders lists and it just blew our minds, man! As we all know the Grateful Dead are on of the most important bands in classic rock history. They changed the concert scene and influenced culture in certain ways as much as The Beatles influenced culture. They were more than just a band, they were a movement. However, the band only had one single to break the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100 throughout the course of their entire career. The song “Touch Of Grey,” peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot in 1987. Their next highest charting single was “Truckin'” which hit number 64 in  1970.

# 9 – Joan Osborne

Joan Osborne is one of those great artists who had a huge hit single that didn’t really define who she was as an artist. Although she had already released some music independently,  in 1995 she released her debut album Relish on a major label, The record spawned a controversial top 10 hit entitled “One of Us,” with the tag line What If God Was One Of Us?

The song was huge and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. If would be Joan Osborne’s only single to ever chart on the Billboard Hit 100. However, in complete contrast to the Grateful Dead’s story above, it was Joan Osborne’s hit single that kickstarted her career and developed a loyal fan base that would follow along as she released 10 more great albums cementing her as one of the great musical artists to come out of the 1990s.

# 8 – The Youngbloods

The Youngbloods were a popular early 1970s band that released five great studio albums from 1967 to 1972 that were widely praised by critics and fans. The group was led by Jesse Colin Young and Jerry Corbitt. They had a massive hit single in 1970 entitled “Get Together.” The song became an anthem for peace and reached the Billboard Hit 100’s top 10 peaking at number five. The song was originally written by Dino Valenti under the name “Let’s Get Together.” The Jefferson Airplane had recorded a version of the song but never released it as a single.  The Youngbloods never had another single break the U.S. Billboard Top 40.

# 7 – The Fabulous Thunderbirds

When talking about a great Texas rock and roll band. you can talk about The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The group had first formed in 1979 and had released a series of albums before they hit big in 1986 with their top 10 hit single “Tuff Enough.” The song peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band was never able to break the Billboard Top 50 again. But who cares, they were one of the great rocking blues bands of the classic rock era fronted by Stevie Ray Vaughan’s older brother Jimmie Vaughan, and singer Kim Wilson.

# 6 – Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield was one of the most important rock bands in classic rock history for various reasons. This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band released three great albums in the late 1960s that have become legendary rock and roll records. The group also launched the careers of members Neil Young, Stephen Stills, and Richie Furay. The group released so many great songs, but only one reached the Billboard Top 10 and no other ones broke Billboard Top 40. The single “For What It’s Worth,” hit number 7 in 1967 on the Billboard Top 100.

# 5 – Free

The great rock band Free featuring Paul Rogers released six great studio albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, the band only had one Top 10 hit in the United States and never was able to break the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 section again. Their lone hit in the U.S. was a big one. The song “All Right Now,” was released in 1970. It peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100.

# 4 – Elvin Bishop

Elvin Bishop is regarded as one of the greatest blues rock guitarists of all time. He was a member of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band He played on the great The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper album and has led a spectacular solo career releasing over twenty rocking solo albums. However, he is regarded as one of the all-time one hit wonders because some people just don’t know any better. Elvin Bishop is a true rock and roll guitar legend. His lone top 10 hit was the big-time single “Fooled Around And Fell In Love.” The song was released in 1975 and hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100.

# 3 – Shocking Blue

The great band Shocking Blue released eleven albums during their career in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The band was huge in Europe especially in France and The Netherlands where they celebrated many big-time hits. However, in the United States, they had only one top 10 hit and never again even broke the Billboard Top 40 in the United States which many fans in Europe found shocking! In 1969, Shocking Blue did more than just break the Billboard Top 10 in the U.S., they went all the way to number one with their great song “Venus.” This is a great example of a band who is sadly known as being a one hit wonder, yet delivered a magnificent series of albums and hits outside of the U.S.

# 2 – Nazareth

Nazareth are a great example of a long-running rock and roll band who have released a large number of albums and has had great success on a worldwide basis except in the U.S. Despite releasing twenty four studio albums, the band only had two songs reach the Billboard Hot 100. One song entitled “Holiday” charted at number 87 in 1980. The song they released that put them in this article was their great single “Love Hurts.” The song peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975.

# 1 – T. Rex

T. Rex was one of the most loved bands in classic rock history. The group led by Marc Bolan released eight albums under the name T. Rex and four albums under the name Tyrannosaurus Rex. However, despite the abundance of material, the group landed only one top 10 hit in the U.S. and never reached the top 40 outside of that hit. Their only top 10 hit entitled “Get It On,” was released in 1971 and hit number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Updated September 15, 2023

10 One Hit Wonders That Should Never Be Called One Hit Wondersarticle published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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